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May 2003 - Local vineyard scores a hat-trick

Moorlynch Vineyard near Street has three prize-winning sparkling wines to put on its shelves to tempt locals and visitors looking for some top-class celebratory fizz.

Winemaker Peter Farmer scooped the prizes in the Taste of the West food and Drink Awards, run in conjunction with the organisers of the Royal Bath and West Show, whose aim is to highlight regional excellence.

Moorlynch Vintage Reserve, from the 1994 harvest, won a gold award; the appropriately-named Pink!  was awarded a silver and the Special Reserve, a favourite since 1991,  took a bronze.

Peter Farmer said ‘Many of us think the brightest future for English Wines lies in sparkling wine. We’re probably unique in producing three different sparklers at Moorlynch and we’re thrilled that they have all been judged to be  of such a high standard.’

October 2003 - Moorlynch Vineyard launches new Westcountry Brandy

Award-winning Moorlynch Vineyard near Street is at last ready to launch its exciting new product: a five year old single cask brandy distilled from grapes picked at the picturesque Polden Village site in 1997.

Only a handful of English wine-makers have gone down the long and difficult path of brandy production, and Moorlynch Brandy is the first new Westcountry spirit for many years. It was distilled by the Somerset Royal Brandy Company, and matured and bottled at Moorlynch. It is being marketed under the name 'Sleeping Beauty'.

Producer Peter Farmer explains: ‘For most of the time the spirit is dormant, slowly acquiring all the characteristics we look for in a fine brandy, almost waiting to be discovered. By coincidence, while we were looking round for label ideas our artist daughter Nancy showed us one of her recent paintings: a dark rich image of Sleeping Beauty dreaming the time away. It seemed perfect - especially as she designed our very first wine labels when we started out in the business’.

Reflecting the unique character of the brandy, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ will be available in 50cl bottles, each one signed and numbered, from Moorlynch Vineyard Shop from the middle of November -just in time to provide some Christmas Spirit!

May 2004 - Vineyard hosts May Market

Is Moorlinch Somerset’s answer to Montmartre? As the years pass, the artistic community at Moorlynch Vineyard becomes more established. The painters, jewellers and potter will open their workshops at the May Market Day on May 15th offering their exquisite hand-crafted products for sale in the picturesque courtyard setting. The mellow stone barns, which in earlier times housed cattle and piles of cider apples, now provide a peaceful and inspirational setting for the creative people who have their workshops here.

Naturally the fine art goes hand-in-hand with Vine Art, as winemaker Peter Farmer displays his range of estate-grown and bottled award-winning wines – not something you’d come across in Montmartre. The vineyard offers a choice of three still wines, three sparkling wines, and the innovative Sleeping Beauty Brandy –not something you’d come across at many vineyards anywhere. And, while sampling, visitors can enjoy home-made refreshments prepared by Nibbles Vineyard Catering.

A talented group of craftspeople working in the area also use the vineyard Market Days as a sympathetic and attractive shop window to bring their special wares to the eye of discerning shoppers: there will be stained glass, cards, prints, wooden items, hand-spun mohair accessories and locally-grown plants.

The work of Secret World Animal Rescue Centre was supported by the Vineyard’s Christmas Market; and Zazoo the Barn Owl will be there to say hello again, accompanied by Holly the Albino Hedgehog and Bill and Ben the rats. Should be a hoot! The Market runs from 11am to 4pm – for further information ring 01458 210393.

September 2004 - Vineyard Artists ready to open their doors

There is an unprecedented level of activity in studios and workshops across the county as artists prepare for Somerset Art Weeks next month.

 A glance at the guide to the open studios reveals that no less than nine entries are listed for the tiny village of Moorlinch, near Street, giving the picturesque village surely the highest concentration of creative output in the entire region.

Six of these venues are centred round the delightful courtyard at Moorlynch Vineyard which over the last few years has changed its focus ‘from Vine Art to Fine Art’ – indeed that is the title given by owner Anne Farmer to her display of paintings. She is joined by daughter Nancy Farmer who began her Somerset painting career by producing designs for the vineyard’s wine labels. Suzanne Hemmings makes up the trio of painters. Suzanne has a permanent studio at the vineyard and specialises in animal paintings.

Next door you find the jewellery workshop of Anne Collins, Helen Jones and Sally Yeo who work with silver and precious and semi-precious stones, producing original pieces in classic and contemporary styles.

Joan Roberts has worked from the vineyard for many years – though not always in the same location  as she is now in her third different studio on the site. She is offering a range of beautiful art prints combining the best of modern technology with natural artistic flair.

Clio Graham, the most longstanding of all Moorlynch Vineyard’s artists, has produced her charming and original pottery here for nearly ten years. She follows a long tradition of decorating her slipware with lines of poetry to complement countryside scenes.

Is there an explanation for the breadth of artistic activity in this tiny village? ‘Moorlinch  is a very inspiring place to work’ said Anne Farmer. ‘The vast views of the Somerset Levels, the ancient buildings and peaceful surroundings, and the companionship of creative people are all part of the magic. I call Moorlinch ‘the Montmartre of Somerset’.

Somerset Artweeks 2004 runs from 11th September to 26th September and features 322 different venues.

Guides and maps available. Visit www.somersetartweek.org.uk or Tel Dillington House 01460 259324

The Arts Weeks are held every 2 years.

November 2004 - A Glass Act at Moorlynch Vineyard

A dramatic new craft experience will be a focal point at Moorlynch Vineyard Christmas Market this year – the glassblowing workshops will be re-opening. The resident glassblower Nick Brine will be demonstrating his wondrous skills.

Now an established Christmas Shopping tradition in the Polden Villages and beyond, the coming fifth Christmas Market will again feature all the artists who work at the vineyard, providing a unique opportunity to browse in seasonal surroundings –welcomed with a free glass of mulled wine, of course.

On the topic of wine, this may be the last time the truly local tipple – Moorlynch Wine – will be generally available. Owner Peter Farmer explained: ‘We are retiring from wine production, so this Christmas there will be some great wine bargains on offer – you could call it ‘last of the summer wine’!’

Moorlynch Vineyard Christmas Market is on Saturday 20th November from 11am to 5pm, no entry charge.